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Weekend of Splendor, Finesse and Fierce Competition

By North-End | 13 Sep 2008 | PUNE


Puneites and patrons from all over will feast themselves as the fondly awaited Poonawalla Million drama waits to unfold this weekend at the Pune Race Course. In a special address to the press hosted by the Poonawallas at their impressive, sprawling Stud Farm, Col Gidwani, representing the Poonawallas opened the proceedings with a little brief on the high profile race – The SAP Million and a few bytes on the foundation of the Poonawalla stud Farms. The SAP Million, a regular feature in the Pune racing calendar, is a race named in honour of Late Mr. Soli Poonawalla, father of Dr. Cyrus and Zavare Poonawalla. His passion for horses and love for the sport saw him starting his own Stud Farm and taking breeding very seriously. Over the years, the Poonawalla siblings have developed their father's passionate venture and the pace at which they have grown and incorporated dramatic innovations would have certainly made the senior Poonawalla proud. The Meticulous planning, eye for minute detailing, professional; management and deep study and knowledge of the breeding industry have seen the Poonawalla Stud Farm perch there right on the top for several years now. The love for horses at the farm is evident in the manner the horses are looked after – whether racing horses or not. In an educative and entertaining gesture during the Press meet, Col Gidwani requested Dr. Gandhe a Sr Vet at the farm, to parade some of the equine inmates at the Farm. To our pleasant surprise, five stoutly built beautiful looking Australian bred fillies were brought into the paddock. The grey and brown patched fillies were a sight to behold. Dr. Gandhe further explained the crucial role these fillies play at the farm. Theses fillies, he said, were actually foster mothers to some of the thoroughbred foals. Their role is that of a 'back-up mom' to these young foals. "You see, sometimes a new dam of a foal cannot produce enough milk, or in the tragic event of the death of the new mother, these fillies act as the saviors to the new borns. Their natural 'mother's instincts' help nurture the young thoroughbred foals letting them suckle up to them and provide them the most important early nourishment of their lives – Milk! Even if these fillies have their own foals they lovingly let the thoroughbreds off-springs to feed on their milk" explained Dr. Gandhe. An amazing lesson of pure, selfless love had been understood. . These lovely creations of Mother Nature then majestically returned to their stables amidst cheerful applause in admiration and acknowledgement from the members of the media, who, I am sure, had learnt something new. Next on display was another pleasant surprise. In the paddock, walked in a dark bay who has done Indian Racing proud in 1994. Astonish the first Indian thoroughbred to win a race overseas looking handsome and fit as ever with a swagger in his gait came into view. Everyone gasped with disbelief when Dr. Gandhe reminded us that Astonis was all of twenty years of age. He was snapping at his sling and giving the syce a hard time with his amazing energetic, playful defiance, as if seeking to break loose and run to the race track for yet another victory! Our own equine hero was still full of life belying his age, giving testimony that he was being very well looked after at the farm. He sure seemed enjoying a blissful retired life. His coat and condition was impeccable and seeing him after such a long time was indeed the 'feel good' moment of the day. The SA Poonawalla Million comes with its customary glamour and glitter. For race goers this is one event that they would not miss for anything. The Poonawalla group, popularly acknowledged as the first family of Indian Turf, has always sought to improve and upgrade their race with each passing year and it is amazing how the entire planning is implemented with their brand of finesse. There is something for everyone. The rich stake money for the owner/s, recognition for the professionals and the common man too can take a pause from his chronic concerns and dream to return home with a car! The car, as a prize for their 'contest of skill' is open to participation by any entrant at the Pune race course which was an innovation of the Poonawallas years back and the idea has only generated greater fondness for the Poonawallas specially by the masses. The participation has been tremendous. The race course wears a carnival look and the atmosphere, electric. In conclusion, the Race has some highly reputed horses in the fray. Autonomy for one will be under the spotlight. Juventus, Nora too have a lot prove as well. The other aspiranc its in the line would look to pull off a shock victory. All in all this widely awaited race is sure to bring alive the pune race course today!